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Residential Living

With a nickname like “City of Destiny,” it should come as no surprise that Des Plaines is increasingly becoming a destination for younger people, particularly young families looking to give their children a fine hometown.

This comes after a long run of primarily attracting empty nesters, most of which found themselves settling into condominiums. “Des Plaines used to be so full of condos, you couldn’t turn around without seeing one,” said Jan Goczkowski, an agent with Century 21 Langos & Christian. “Now we’re getting into town homes, which attract different styles of people.”

Situated in and around the newly revitalized downtown area, Des Plaines’ variety of town homes are indeed bringing in a new, younger crowd—one that sees Des Plaines as the right town at the right time for their needs. “The thing about younger families is that they’re so busy,” noted Katie Campbell, an agent with R. Franczak & Associates. “Having a town home means more time for family rather than worrying about outside upkeep, yard work, things like that.”

Town homes—such as those at Concord Commons (765 Sanborn Street) or Lexington Park (1210 Harding Avenue)—are indeed popular draws, with prices generally ranging from the low-to-mid 200s on upward. In fact, according to Lexington Executive Vice President Jeff Benach, Lexington Park was the best-selling town home community in all of the Chicago area in 2009. Benach cites open floor plans and more flexible living spaces as the main attractions for young families.

“Our middle home model, the Warrington, has a den right off the kitchen and great room. It can be an office, or a playroom for a toddler, or any number of things,” explained Benach. “On the main level, an extra room can be very convenient for young families. It was designed with just that whole concept in mind.”

Condominiums remain popular as well; Everleigh (1646 River Street), a nine-story structure with open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows, continues to flourish. And The Waterford (787 Graceland Avenue), a condominium constructed by the aforementioned R. Franczak & Associates and located on the landmark site of Des Plaines’ old library, is nearly at capacity too. “We listen to our buyers in terms of what they’re looking for in a new home, and then try to work that into layouts in the future,” stressed Campbell.

According to longtime broker/ manager Connie Hofherr with Prudential Starck Realtors, what younger buyers are looking for nowadays is the “wow” factor. “They want granite countertops, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances… and they want it already there,” she said, adding, “They don’t want to have to do it themselves.”

Such amenities are more likely to be found with recently built condos and town homes in Des Plaines than stand-alone, single-family homes (known as “detached” to realtors). In either case there are plenty of single-family housing options in Des Plaines—according to Hofherr, more than 400 detached and more than 700 “attached” (condos and town homes) await purchase. “There are a lot of very good buys right now,” said Hofherr. “The homes here are solid-built.”

The attraction to Des Plaines itself remains, at its core, a matter of easy access to transportation. With Metra trains hustling to the Loop in just 35 minutes, and O’Hare International Airport right around the corner, the Des Plaines advantage is simple enough to see. Add in the fact that the town has both I-294 and I-90 close at hand, and Des Plaines’ appreciation factor hits a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning.

“People are finally realizing that we’re in the perfect area here,” said Goczkowski. “We can just jump on the trains, we have ample parking, great restaurants, our school system is outstanding, we have a state-of-the-art library… We’re close to Chicago with its museums and cultural and academic oppotunities. It’s definitely a family town.”

And with Metropolitan Square, a mixed-retail/residential development, highlighting a vibrant downtown, it’s easy to see where the appeal lies for Des Plaines. “The amenities are here; the parks are great,” added Goczkowski. “There’s no place else I’d choose to live.”

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